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Interview with Sylvia Massara, author of The Gay Mardi Gras Murders


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My new book, featuring older chick sleuth, Mia Ferrari, is the second of a mystery series.

In this second mystery in the series, the reader will be transported into the world of drag queens and the well-renowned Sydney Gay Mardi Gras.

Here is the book blurb:

Mia Ferrari, smartarse, older chick, super sleuth, is back in her 2nd murder mystery, and this time, she is up to her neck in drag queens, a rare diamond with a curse and murder most foul against the backdrop of Sydney’s  world famous Gay Mardi Gras.

A female impersonator is found dismembered in her hotel suite bathtub, and a rare diamond worth twenty million dollars is gone. The Gay Mardi Gras is fast approaching and Mia Ferrari, senior duty manager of the exclusive Rourke International Hotel Sydney, has to juggle a bunch of drag queens, a number of fabulously handsome gay men, a transsexual with a dark mystery, a young cop with sex on his mind, a close friend from the UK who is having marital problems and a mounting body count.

As Mia pits her investigative skills against her archenemy, Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe, to solve the case, she not only becomes embroiled in the life of the people around her, but it looks like she is the next target for a serial killer with a grudge against gay men.

What genre is it?
The genre is mystery/suspense – female sleuths.

But she’s an older sleuth? That’s different.
I do have a soft spot for older female protagonists. I believe once women get past their 40s, they tend to become invisible to men. Thanks to Hollywood, we are now beginning to see more feisty, intelligent and smart actresses putting an end to the myth that youth and beauty is everything. I also think Hollywood is guilty of
supporting the view that it’s okay for a man in his late 50s to be with a 20-something female, but turn this around, and all you get is harsh criticism and ridicule.

Even the Hollywood of yesteryear was guilty of pairing old men with very young women. Two movies that spring to mind immediately: Sabrina (Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn) and another, Funny Face (Fred Astaire and Audrey again). I mean, c’mon! The guys were in their 50s or so, and young Audrey was a fresh, young thing in her 20s.

What kind of readers will this book appeal to?
Readers of all ages, male and female will enjoy this novel. It’s funny, because I’m getting fan mail from younger men who are falling madly in love with 48-year-old, streetwise, doesn’t-suffer-fools-gladly, Mia Ferrari.

Complete this sentence for us: if you like _________________, you’ll love this book.
If you love an older female protagonist who is flawed (yes, life gets to us all), and who has strong opinions and is a determined,
nothing-will-get-in-my-way person, then you’ll like the Mia Ferrari mysteries.

The mysteries are contemporary, but they do have a feeling of the “film noir” genre. So if you enjoy the black and white Hollywood movies of the 40s with characters like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, you’ll enjoy Mia’s style.

Tell us a bit more about Mia Ferrari.
Mia Ferrari is a wannabe investigator who works as a Duty Manager in the luxury world of international hotels.

Her dream of becoming a police officer was thwarted by her archenemy, Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe, and these two have a love-hate relationship from the start.

After coming off an 18-year marriage, Mia is disillusioned with love, and she often tortures herself with “what if” scenarios from a brief love affair she had prior to her marriage with her present boss.

Mia has a weakness for younger men and Ferrari cars. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and she will stop at nothing when getting embroiled in a murder investigation.

In the often insidious world of hotels, Mia seems to attract all manner of crime and shady characters, and she makes it her mission to pit her skills against her archenemy so she can solve the crime first.

With the help of American Security Manager, Guy Dobbs, and teenage computer hacker, Chris Rourke (Mia’s pseudo-son), Mia delves in the world of suicide, murder, drugs, stolen gems and, most recently, the sometimes murky world of drag queens and transsexuals.

This is part of a series, right? Are there any other Sylvia Massara novels out there?
If you like Mia Ferrari, there are two books available at present. I have also written two wacky romantic comedies “The Other Boyfriend” and “Like Casablanca“. Finally, my serious work is a drama about what life does to people and how obstacles can be overcome through friendship and unconditional love. The novel is entitled “The Soul Bearers“.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Here’s my bio:

Sylvia Massara is a multi-genre novelist based in Sydney, Australia, who dabbles in wacky love affairs, drama and murder (or all three) over coffee. Sylvia has been writing since her early teens and her work consists of screenplays and novels.

As with most authors, Sylvia draws on her varied experience from having worked in the field of human resources across a number of industries including the glamorous world of international hotels.

In the romance genre, Sylvia exhibits a soft spot for older female protagonists who are on the cusp of 40 and beyond. One of her novels, The Other Boyfriend, is loosely based on her own life experience whilst she lived in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Her other romance novel, Like Casablanca, is a romantic comedy about internet dating.

On a more serious note, Sylvia wrote a very touching contemporary fiction drama, The Soul Bearers, which explores issues of child abuse, repressed sexuality, AIDS and gay rights; a story inspired by real life events and filled with hope and inspiration when overcoming fear, loss, and betrayal. At present, the novel is under consideration for adaptation into a feature film.

An avid fan of classic black and white Hollywood movies of the 40s including film noir, Sylvia has recently embarked on a contemporary mystery series whose protagonist is an older, spunky and smartarse female of 48 who works in the international world of hotels. The theme is comedic, sprinkled with a little bit of style from the film noir
era; the stories are fast-paced and set in the modern day world. The first two novels in the series are Playing With The Bad Boys and The Gay Mardi Gras Murders.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
You can see novel blurbs, book trailers and links to my eBooks and paperbacks  at:

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
Twitter: @sylviamasara

What’s next?
I recently got back from a Pacific cruise, and while I was onboard the ship, I was busily doing research for my next Mia Ferrari mystery: Murder on the South Pacific.

I hope to have this out by end of 2013.

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One Comment

  1. Great interview, Sylvia! Off to share!

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